Why does the thumb hurt when running and what to do about it?

Among the many foot injuries that may lie in wait for the runner, the problems associated with the big toe should be singled out separately. This is one of the most frequent and unpleasant diseases, which, at first glance, may seem a trifle, but become a significant obstacle in achieving your goals and the implementation of training plans.


Causes of pain in the big toe when running

The thumb is actively involved in running biomechanics. The correct position and strength give not only an increase in the thrust power, but also stabilization upon landing. The most common situation in which these functions begin to suffer is halus valgus. Halus valgus (deviation of the big toe with the formation of a characteristic bone protrusion) is one of the most common orthopedic diseases. 

There are several reasons for its occurrence:

  • high load on the forefoot: due to the heel, the front type of posture (posture type, in which the center of gravity is displaced anteriorly) or overweight;
  • shoes with a narrowed nose;
  • hormonal changes (in women) in adolescence, during pregnancy, menopause (due to varying calcium absorption and density of the ligamentous apparatus);
  • osteoporosis (this is a progressive decrease in bone density, which leads to increased bone fragility);
  • genetic predisposition (the researchers found deviations of the thumb in the tribes where the shoes are not at all worn).

Most often, the deformation of the thumb is preceded by transverse flatfoot (loss of the arch of the transverse arch with the deviation of the first metatarsal bone), which in turn triggers the deviation of the thumb. As a result of this process, the support function of the forefoot changes and a number of orthopedic problems can be observed. Cause in the area of ​​the second plusus-phalangeal joint (under the second-third finger), hammer-like deformation of the remaining fingers.

When running, especially if the technique of running involves landing on the forefoot, transverseflatfoot and halus valgus can be aggravated, and also cause a number of specific problems:

  • Metatarsalgia (most often pain in the region of the 2-3 plus-phalangeal joints), which occurs due to the displacement of the fulcrum from 1 and 5 metatarsal bones in the norm, by 2-3.
  • Numbness of 2, 3, 4 fingers while running, due to increased compression of metatarsal nerves, as well as the formation of a thickening of the nerve of Morton’s neuroma.
  • Impaired depreciation of the foot and increased chance of fatigue fracture 

Pain prevention

Since the transverse arch is held solely by the ligaments, not the muscles, there is no exercise for the prevention or treatment of transverse flatfoot with proven effectiveness. Rather, you can give advice to limit all the exercises performed in the position on the toe.

To improve the position of the big toe, you can perform exercises on the muscle, retracting the thumb. To do this, perform the exercise “fan” – the maximum dilution of the fingers to the sides with a hold for 30 seconds, 8 repetitions. Exercise can be performed for 3 months 5-6 times a week once a day. Also good are exercises on replenishment of subluxation in the first metatarsal joint with rubber expanders.

To correct the position of the thumb, orthopedic correctors are used. The most effective are nighttime correctors. To support the finger during the daytime you can use kinesiotiping. The support of the transverse arch during trainings and during daily walking is carried out with the help of a metatarsal pelotte, drop-shaped or T-shaped. Such a cushion (pilot) is attached to the insole immediately behind the line of the metatarsal joints, and when walking and running it partially absorbs the shock load.Pelot often helps to get rid of fingers and metatarsal numbness, sometimes it is enough to relieve the symptoms of Morton’s neuroma.

If you are already experiencing pain in the first metatarsal joint, it is good to relieve inflammation of a compress from cabbage rolled through a meat grinder or blender to a juicy gruel mixed with gel “Nise” (approximately 2 cm when extruded). Apply to gauze, wrap the joint and wrap with cling film overnight.Repeat every other day 5 times. It also helps to relieve swelling and pain, cooling the bone area with ice through a cloth – 4 minutes with a break of 4 minutes (2-3 repetitions) and baths with sea salt.

Updated: December 17, 2018 — 8:16 pm

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